How New Scientific Research & Technology is Changing Our Understanding of Deception.

[By David O. Brink, Esq., Litigation Manager, Smith & Brink, P.C.]

Why do people lie and cheat? To discover truth in an examination under oath, or some other type of interrogation, an interviewer must know the enemy, which is deceit. To invoke Sun Tzu’s ancient wisdom, if you do not know your enemy, for every victory gained you also will suffer a defeat. Traditional interrogation strategy has been grounded on a hazy economics-based theory called the Simple Model of Rational Crime. Lying is analyzed as a simple matter of cost versus benefit. Investigators attempt to curb deceit by appeal to the rational mind. The subject is urged to consider the high probability of being caught in a deception (high risk) along with the harshness of punishment that would result (high cost).

Innovative research suggests new ways to sharpen those tactics. What emerges from recent studies in social science is that—surprise—everyone lies, but still honesty is a critical part of self-image. This tension is resolved in a curious manner: it turns out people lie to themselves about how honest they really are. Researchers have dubbed these insights the Self-Image Model of Deception.

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